Mayor Emanuel: Closing Chicago schools is the responsible decision
CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded on Saturday to widespread criticism of his plan to close 54 Chicago Public Schools, saying he is not interested in doing what is politically easy and that the pain of the closings does not compare to the anguish of “trapping” kids in failing schools.
“If we don't make these changes, we haven't lived up to our responsibility as adults to the children of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said in his first public statements since Thursday's announcement. “And I did not run for office to shirk my responsibility.”
Emanuel was out of town when his schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, announced the closings. It is the largest number of CPS schools to be shuttered in a single year, and officials say it will affect about 30,000 students in the nation's third-largest school district.
The long-awaited announcement angered many parents, teachers, lawmakers and community members, who say it disproportionately affects minority neighborhoods. Opponents argue the closings will endanger children who may have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school, and will eliminate facilities considered anchors in some struggling communities.
Opponents protested outside several schools on Friday, and the Chicago Teachers Union and other organizations are planning a march on Wednesday in downtown Chicago.
Parent Yolanda Harris called the plan “unfair” and said she was starting to second-guess her decision to vote for Emanuel for mayor. Her four children attend Dumas Technology Academy, which is slated to be closed.
“It's not to say (Emanuel) is a bad person, but I'm saying I don't agree with a lot of the decisions he's making,” said Harris, who protested outside the school on Friday with other parents. “He's making big mistakes.”
The mayor and Byrd-Bennett say the closings are necessary to address a $1 billion budget shortfall and because many CPS schools are half-empty, failing academically and in need of repair. They say the plan will save the district $560 million over 10 years in capital costs and an additional $43 million per year in operating costs.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Federal injunction stops Arizona from enforcing policy of denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants
- Panel review says Secret Service ‘starved for leadership’
- 2014 death sentences, executions plummet
- Car plows into crowd in California, killing 3
- Meningitis suspects to be freed from jail while awaiting trial in 64 deaths
- Obama, now unbridled, quickly checking off to-do list
- Feds design college ratings system
- Harvard study bolsters link between pollution, autism
- Smoking, drinking falls off among teens, but not drug use
- EPA tabs $3.1M to curb algae in Lake Erie
- Social Security yanked from deported Nazis